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I'm a smut-smith, not a nympho: Stop thinking I'm sex-crazed because I write hot sex scenes

When I say I'm a writer, people yawn; when I tell them I'm an erotica writer, they assume I'm on my way to an orgy


Nicola Jane
February 8, 2016 5:30AM (UTC)

J.K. Rowling is not widely believed to fly a broomstick, nor Agatha Christie to have actually murdered anyone. But most people who meet me assume I've got an uncontrollable libido, am terrifying in bed and have to carry a handbag full of sex toys on long train rides.

When I introduce myself as a writer, even a published one, I get polite, semi-interest at best. But when I say that I'm an erotica writer, everyone's dying to know about me. Some people even download my book on the spot. Along with their newly aroused interest go several assumptions, the keystone of those being that I've personally done everything I've ever written about.

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"So you must have done a lot of research then, eh?" Wink, wink.

"Well, some terminology maybe I found online. But I mostly just used my imagination."

"Right, yeah, but that scene with the three girls and the-"

"Made up."

"But you've been to a fetish club, right?"

"Made that up too."

"But the group sex … and that bit where she pees--"

"You know, my book before this one was about a boy whose mirror reflects the future."

"Yeah, but that's, like, sci-fi!"

This is what I’ve come to call the "Erotica Fallacy," no version of which affects writers of other fiction genres. For nonfiction writers the gap between writing and life doesn't exist. Nigella Lawson cooks, Bill Bryson travels and Piper Kerman recounts her real-life experiences of prison. For some reason, now I write erotica, I've apparently become a nonfiction author.

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Even my boyfriend, with whom I'd had a professional working relationship for over two years in my other industry – writing for English language education – presumed, at a minimum, that I had "slept with women, had a lot of sex with a lot of people. And definitely the odd threesome. Maybe an orgy." And this was before he read the book, which only confirmed it for him. My ordinariness must have been so disappointing. I should probably count myself lucky that he wasn't too intimidated to try. I'm also thankful I didn't suspect any of his preconceptions or I would have been too intimidated to sleep with him.

The truth is that writing erotica started at the least sexually active period of my adult life. I was working in a small German town as a live-out governess to a rich family. I had no social life, let alone dating life, plus I was getting over a long, drawn-out breakup from an emotionally abusive ex. There was no way I was ready to be with anyone else, and there was no opportunity even if I had been, so all that energy channeled onto the page instead. The scenarios, a million miles away from anything I'd ever actually do in real life, flowed with ease. The hardest part was finding other ways to say "nipple."

Being single turned out to be the best thing for writing erotica. Once I was dating, and then in a relationship again, I had to dig much deeper for the urge to write about sex, which turned up some even darker, voyeuristic scenes and one with Rumpelstiltskin in a starring role … thankfully, my boyfriend met me before I wrote those or I'd have had even more expectations to live up to.

Generally speaking, men love the siren-like allure they perceive coming from the erotica writer. On dates, men would regale me with stories of their prowess and then "joke" that I should put them in my books, as if their moves would definitely warrant immortalization on the page. It's pretty insulting to me as a writer that they think I lack the imagination to do what writers do – weave story cloth from their own imaginations.

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While the persona I've created for my pen-name, "Nicola Jane," is probably great for sales, she constantly has to play Whore to the real-life (mostly) Virgin me. (In case you didn't realize, there are no other archetypes for women to fulfill as they all drill down to sexual or non-sexual characteristics.) Sometimes one overspills into the other. I’ve heard a rumor about myself, passed on most recently by a twice-divorced man, that I've slept with "everyone" in my regular-life industry. It wasn't said admiringly. I've no idea who started it, nor how widespread it is. That it's not true annoys me less than the fact this is such an easy way to attack a woman. Even if I had, so what? I'm sure Ian Kerner, for example, author of nonfiction book about pleasuring women, "She Comes First," wouldn't be sneered at over gossip that his expertise comes from sleeping with hundreds of women. Not that I'm suggesting it has.

A more pleasantly surprising discovery I made once I became a smut-smith was that men are not the solely visual, porn-centric creatures we think. They get off on reading erotica (though not the soppy-heroine-plus-chisel-jawed-hero-with-a-troubled-past type of erotic romance). Actual physical-response turned-on. And, guess who they cast in the starring roles in their head? Not models or porn stars or airbrushed fakes. You. Their wife or girlfriend, or the girl they're hoping one day will be.

Women often react to the erotica writer in a way I'd never have predicted. They start telling me about their sex lives and their fantasies. I've learned how and when a friend first found her clitoris; which fetish sites another friend uses to meet men; what happened when another bought a French maid's outfit and modeled it while she and her man took coke; and I know which vibrator hits with the most sledgehammer-like orgasm, without having to try one myself.

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As for me, I found out I write erotica much better at certain times of the month than others. Writing a hot scene turned out to be a pretty good indicator of when I'm ovulating. So much so, that I organize my writing schedule around it to avoid my period and the few days afterward, when I can't write any good sex. This insight is one many women could benefit from when dealing with their changing libido. Planning a sexy date, or being able to work out when your period will fall (two weeks after ovulation) takes the guesswork out of the month. I'd love to know if other work, creative or hobby activities would benefit from the energy surge that comes at sexier times of the cycle.

When I'm writing well also happens to be when I most feel like …But, I'll stop there. I write about great sex. I don't write about the great sex I'm having, whatever some people might like to believe.


Nicola Jane

Nicola Jane is the author of "Follow Your Fantasy," and its sequel "Follow Your Fantasy: Deeper" choose-your-own-adventure-style erotica. She writes about sex, and dating, blogs at www.nicolajane.org  and tweets from @NicolaJaneWrites.

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